Turning Loose –
Last weekend Beth and I took a trip to see some family in another state. When we left the yard seemed green, the bushes and trees covered with leaves and even a few blossoms dotting the yard. However, when we returned after only a few days things looked very different. The yard had begun to turn brown, the blossoms were gone and the bushes and trees had brown leaves which had begun to fall. In the last week, most of the yard contains the leaves that until recently were holding on. The clocks were turned back last weekend and it seems fall has finally settled in and winter is not far behind.
I don’t like the end of summer. The bright days growing shorter, the green trees and bushes getting bare, the colors becoming a muted brown. However, I also know it is the cycle of life. What is alive and flourishing will diminish and die. The long winter nights remind us of the journey each of us will make at the end of our lives to the other side. There will come a time for all of us when must turn loose of the lives we have and accept the passing of time.
I have spoken this week with a young woman who is getting married next Saturday. She has two young children and loves these symbols of spring and new life. I also connected with someone who is faced with the reality of how quickly life passes.
The cycle of life is ever-moving. We don’t know where we are in the circle but we do know it’s movement, fast or slow, never stops.
Abundance & Assistance –
Beth and I spent most of the day putting a green tin roof on our porch extension. It looks great but we are exhausted!
Two short reflections from the last two days…
The first was the wonderful rain we had last night. A gorgeous, much-needed soaking rain. It was either ironic or sad but the rain started just as I had finished watering the flowers and the garden. A few drops hit my shoulder as I watered the Blue Spruces we have in the front yard and by the time I got to the front door it was coming down hard. At first there was irritation; “Couldn’t the rain had started 30 minutes before?” but this thought soon withered as I listened to the storm pound the roof, opened the door and watched the water drench the thirst of the grass and trees. Abundance was given to nature last night and I was not only a witness but a participant.
This morning, before tackling the roof on the porch, I made a list of needed materials and headed to the hardware store. Once there I collected and purchased the items, which included 10 sheets of heavy, 12 feet long, sheets of tin. They were cumbersome and difficult to load, carry and navigate the store aisles. When I wheeled the cart out to my truck I began to unload the sheets and put them in the back. It was a frustrating job. The sheets were heavy and got caught the wind, dragging me in a direction I didn’t want to go. The cart began to roll back and other vehicles were passing. At the exact time I needed the most help I caught a glimpse of a hardware store employee walking in my direction. Without a word he assisted me in doing a job I’m not sure I could’ve done myself. I was very thankful and told him so.
Two stories, related to each other in a couple of ways, helped remind me that abundance and assistance may arrive unexpectedly but sometimes their timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Ego breeds ego.
I have a friend who is dealing with the impact of another person’s giant ego. This person throws his weight around, reminds subordinates of their place in the company’s food chain, bullies, threatens and seems completely unaware of his self obsession. He feeds his ego by feasting on others. Meetings are uncomfortable because other employees aren’t sure who the target of wrath will be for the day. “It seems selfish,’ says my friend; ‘but when he chooses someone else I’m relieved that it isn’t me even though I feel the other person’s pain.'” My friend has tried fighting back, confronted his rudeness, challenged his preconceptions, pointed out mistakes, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. “I’ve found that when I begin to focus on taking him down a notch or two, proving he’s not as great as he thinks, my ego begins to grow and manifests itself in ugly ways.”
As we worked though this issue I reminded my friend that; “Ego breeds ego. When your goal is to win or someone else to lose, you both suffer.” One of the most difficult people to deal with are those with an inflated opinion of themselves, especially when they are in positions of power. Wisdom teaches us that humility, even in the face of the egotistical, is the path we should walk. Power, pride, personal gratification always slips through the fingers of the grandiose. Starve ego, don’t feed it or breed it.
Last night I had to confront someone on a bad decision they had made. It wasn’t easy. I’m not one for confrontation. I would rather build someone up, encourage them, congratulate them on their progress than look another person in the eye and tell them they’ve made a bad decision. However, this is what friends, mentors, leaders need to do and refusal would mean to abdicate our responsibility.
This gentleman is in one of my incarcerated father groups and he chose to get in a fight with another man in his pod after the two had unkind words with each other. As a result he has to serve thirty days in the maximum facility portion of the jail. I had heard about the scuffle before he came to class so after he came in I found a moment to ask him about it. This big man, six inches taller and quite a bit wider than me, quickly looked down at his feet and admitted what he had done. “You’ve got to make good choices!” I told him. “Good decision lead you to better places, bad ones bring you here, to stay.” He shook his head and told me he was sorry and that I was right. We didn’t have time to talk about it longer but set up a time to connect next week.
Confrontation, butting heads with someone, going toe to toe, eye to eye isn’t easy but at times is necessary. However, this can’t be the end of the conversation. When we sit down and speak about the matter I will encourage, remind him of his progress, how far he’s come and that he’s smart enough and good enough to learn from a poor decision and keep moving forward.